Wednesday, April 16, 2014

abre os olhos / open your eyes

Jewelry: Ali Amaro layered with Ibo Island silver filigree. Photography and Styling: Ali Amaro. Model: Bárbara Albuquerque. Sculpture in background from Papua New Guinea. On location in Point Richmond, California. 
The discomfort of taking a risk, seeing through new eyes, reaching beyond what is obvious...
Often difficult, always worth it. 

Monday, April 07, 2014

You can take a girl out of New Mexico...

I'm excited to share that two of my bolo ties and a letter to the editor have been included in this month's Lapidary Journal / Jewelry Artist magazine. Check it out! (click the photo to enlarge)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rockhounding Near Los Lunas, New Mexico

My Dad and I drove on dirt roads, along the railway and past a scattering of mobile homes with corrals out back, out so far into the mesa that the worry of discovering something other than rocks becomes real.

The map was precise, though, and after a sequence of seemingly random turns we found the site. It must have been a riverbed at some point in geologic history, because there was a swath of stones about a quarter mile wide and then nothing - no stones at all, just sand and the occasional juniper - on either side.

The assortment of rocks was impressive, which also leads me to believe they were carried from distinct places and deposited all together. It was a real jumble, the kind of treasure rock hounders dream about. We found jasper (mostly poppy red and mustard hues), obsidian, petrified wood, some sedimentary rocks that look like cracked mud, and many others that I'm unsure how to classify.

When we returned home, I washed the rocks and set them out to dry in a gradient, both according to size and color. So appealing to my personality to look at all that beautiful order!

Now I need to learn how to cut some cabochons...

Monday, March 24, 2014

An Organizer at Heart

The grand paper calendar. I love this format.

It's no secret that I adore planning. It's like comfort food. Soothing, reassuring, makes me feel like all is right in the world.

I've used a paper calendar since high school and it works really well for me, especially this vertical format where every day of the week has the same layout. It drives me nuts when calendars will treat Saturday and Sunday as half-columns, or double them up. I also really like the to-do list at the side.

Being self-employed, the reality is that each of my days could potentially be a rest day or a work day. I do try to maintain a consistent schedule, and after several months of unpredictable hours and random (and urgent!) tasks, I've finally settled into something that feels right.

Here's how it goes:

  • Mondays I start the day with some accounting and emails, then work in my studio for a couple of hours. I go to pilates at 2pm with Rico, then do another studio session until sunset.
  • Tuesdays I focus on exercise in the morning (ideally a combo of strength training and cardio), then work in my studio until sunset.
  • Wednesdays are studio and pilates, and every other week I get a super relaxing shiatsu massage and go to gallery openings at CCA.
  • Thursdays I work in the showroom all day and can usually put a good dent in computer work and graphic design while I am there.
  • Fridays I work out in the morning, then work in the showroom.
  • Saturdays I have flex time in the morning that I can use for whatever needs attention, then I work in the showroom.
  • Sundays I run with my running partner H., then sunbathe, go to studio, and have the rest of the day off (or, if needed, can play catch up).

Over the years I've figured out a balance of activities that makes me feel happy, gets the work done, and allows for the feeling of spontaneity even within such a controlled schedule. I plan my activities, obligations, studio sessions, and workouts way in advance - sometimes up to two months. I like to know what lies ahead, what I need to be prepared for, when I can let my hair down.

I track two main things each week to help keep me on track: # of times I exercise in a week, and the # of times I make it to my studio (computer work, photography, and graphic design don't count - it has to be metalsmithing). I have a little code to mark each day, and I tally everything in the corner of each page at the end of the week.

My minimum goal is 4x exercise and 3x studio, my ideal goal is 5-6x exercise and 4x studio. It really works. If I hit those numbers, somehow the rest falls into place pretty well.

So far in 2014 I've exercised 63 times (average of 5.2x per week, so totally on track there) and worked in my studio 35 days (average of 2.9 days per week, so just below my minimum goal).

I love tracking everything, and especially love looking back. I often struggle to recognize the things I've accomplished (the pending items on the to-do list usually stand out more than the ones I've crossed off) and this is a nice, empirical, undeniable way to appreciate my efforts.

Are you a planner? Do you keep a paper calendar? What (if anything) do you keep track of over time?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New York After Nearly 20 Years

Back in October we went to New York to celebrate my birthday with friends and family. It had been nearly two decades since I had been to the city, and about the same for Rico. New York at 30-something is totally different than New York as a pre-teen. Much more fun, much more expensive, much more exhausting.

We stayed with a friend from Belgium who I met back in 1998 on my AFS year to Brazil. We've kept in touch all these years, and now he is a diplomat working with the UN. Coincidentally my cousin was in town, a crazy friend from the Bay Area was around too, and two of my favorite jewelry girls now live in New York and are doing courses at the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). It was cool to just hang out with people and share a little of their routines and favorites in the city.

We walked an unholy amount every day, the heel on one of my boots fell off, the weather was good, the architecture was killer, and we ate the most delicious food. My most memorable meal was definitely birthday extravagance at Ma Peche. Maialino was also fantastic.

Hopefully it won't be another 20 years until we make it back.